The sudden slump in the fortunes of British boxing at these Games continued with the surprise defeat of Cardiff’s stylish Joe Cordina.
As the reigning European lightweight champion Cordina was expected to put the bang back into Team GB after Monday night’s hat-trick of losses.
Instead he had the stuffing knocked out of him by a persistent body attack from Uzbek slugger Hurshid Tojbaev.
Joe Cordina suffered a shock defeat to Uzbekistan’s Hurshid Tojbaev
Not even the reach advantage for his long left jab nor the deduction of a point from Tojbaev were sufficient to get him fully into the fight, let alone avoid a heavy defeat.
Tojbaev won every round and it was called a split decision only because of that one-point penalty.
Cordina was man enough to admit: ‘He came with a good game plan, going to my body a lot. He hits hard and he winded me and slowed me down. I couldn’t find my rhythm.’
Luke Campbell, a gold medal winner at the London Olympics before turning professional, was among many convinced that Cordina could emulate that feat.
Uzbekistan’s Tojibaev won every round of the lightweight battle
Campbell had said: ‘I’ve trained a lot with Joe and he has the talent to get a medal, quite possibly gold.’
Cordina shared that optimism but says now: ‘I still believe I have the ability to beat any lightweight here in Rio, on my day. But this wasn’t my day and I can have no complaints about the decision. The better man won on the day.’
He started this fight reasonably well but soon felt the effects of some thudding left hooks to the head and, above all, the Kazak body shots.
Tojbaev sensed Cordina weakening and risked keeping up the body work despite being penalised that point for hitting low in the second round.
Cordina, 24, will resist the temptation to turn professional in hope of realising his golden Olympic dream at the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Cordina was one of the favourites for a medal in Rio but he will have to go again in Tokyo
He says: ‘I’m a Team GB boxer and will remain one.’
He was the only one of this team in action this day. So the task of reviving the collective spirit passes next to Leeds bantamweight Qais Ashfaq, who opens his campaign against Thailand’s Chatchai Butdee this Wednesday morning.
After four wins from four fights in the first two days of competition, the British record has slipped now to five wins and four losses – with one third of the 12-strong team already eliminated.
But there are still some big guns to come, including super-heavyweight Joe Joyce and led by Nicola Adams, who is the favourite to retain the Olympic title she won in London four years ago.